My Day At The National Museum Of African American History & Culture

First off, I want to give a major shout-out to the Christian Divas at the Epworth United Methodist Church in the Bronx, New York. My wife is a part of this group/church and they’re the ones who organized the trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.. Now, before I continue, let me make a public service announcement: everyone needs to go to this museum, man! It truly is a rich and detailed history of the Black experience in America. Meaning, it wholly documents the good, the bad, the ugly, the super ugly and the egregiously ugly. With that being said, I just want to talk about my day at the museum. Let’s go!

To begin, our group started from the building’s lower levels and worked our way to the top floor. The History Galleries occupy the bottom three floors and they tell our history from the 15th century until today. Now, I won’t lie, son. Walking through these exhibits can be very taxing on the soul. It’s incredibly infuriating to see how we were kings and queens, willfully trading goods with Europe, and ended up being the merchandise ourselves.

On the real, seeing actual chains, illustrations of how we were packed onto ships and quotes from some of our callous captors can be an absolute mind-fuck, son. In addition, seeing things like real slave auction blocks, Nat Turner’s Bible and authentic cowskin whips can leave the strongest people feeling deflated. However; looking at Emmett Till’s casket nearly did me in, man. For the life of me, I will NEVER understand how anyone could do that to a 14-year-old boy. So, for that, Carolyn Bryant Donham can burn in the deepest depths of Hell. Recanting her story does NOTHING to bring that boy back, man.

Moving on, walking through gallery after gallery started to take a toll on me. Seeing my people go from slavery to segregation to the prison industrial complex can be extremely heavy on the heart. With that being said, thank the Lord for the Community and Culture Galleries on the upper floors, son! Being the musician I am, I immediately found myself in the music section. How could I not be happy after taking pictures of J Dilla’s MPC, Funkadelic’s Mothership and Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac? Side note, Rest In Peace to Chuck Berry, man. Fuck what anyone else says, THAT MAN invented Rock & Roll, son! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Anyway, walking through these galleries was exactly what I needed after the History Galleries.

In the end, I really enjoyed my time there. It was dope to bring my oldest son and watch him learn. I mean, it would be hard for him to grasp everything so soon, but I definitely wanted him to start learning about history. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what ethnicity anyone is. Everyone needs to visit this museum, man. Well done, Smithsonian. Well done indeed. LC out.

P.S. Shout-out to singer-songwriter Kendra Foster. I ran into her at the museum and she was awesome to talk to. Outside of her dope self-titled debut album, she also helped D’Angelo write the lyrics to most of Black Messiah. Now, anyone who knows me knows how much of a D’Angelo stan I am. In any case, she’s awesome. That is all.

My Problem With Casey Affleck

So, to be honest, in regards to acting merit, I AM upset that Casey Affleck beat Denzel Washington for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. However; that’s not why I’m writing this post today. In actuality, I’m REALLY upset that Affleck won this award because of his history. Now, whether people want to admit it or not, the Academy just awarded a sexual abuser with their highest honor. Ultimately, all I want to know is, why is Affleck allowed to slide but Nate Parker was destroyed by the allegations against him?

Now, before I continue, let me make a few things clear. I don’t fuck with sexual assault, regardless of the culprit’s race. Despite the fact that Parker was found not guilty of raping a fellow college student, I still believe he did it. Why? Because I heard the recorded conversation between him and the victim. Look, I won’t go any further into this because I already wrote a dissertation on this topic. In any case, when the general public got wind of this story, it completely tanked the promotion of his The Birth of a Nation film. All in all, I can’t really say I’m bothered by this because I have a hard time supporting an alleged rapist.

Moving on, everything I just said feeds into my disdain for Affleck’s win. Look, if anyone does a little digging, they’ll find the accusations that two women made against him during the filming of I’m Still Here. First, Magdalena Gorka claimed that he got into bed with her on set and tried to pressure her into sleeping with him. Now, since he was also the director, when she refused, he made her life hell on set. Next, Amanda White claimed that Affleck instructed another crew member to show her his dick, he called women “cows” and he also told her it was time for her to get pregnant. Basically, Affleck was fucking bugging during the movie shoot.

All I want to know is, why is Affleck allowed to prosper while Parker was taken down? In my eyes, neither men should be allowed to succeed. If we don’t condone violence against women, then perpetrators should have to walk around with a scarlet letter. I hate to bring race into discussions about women’s rights, but it’s no coincidence that a White rapist can reach the pinnacle of his industry, while a Black one falls by the wayside. Only in America can the people find a way to divide the same atrocity along racial lines.

In the end, both men ain’t shit for what they’ve done to women. On the real, Affleck can take his Oscar and shove it. Also, shout-out to the Academy for essentially being sexual abuse-sympathizers. *Sigh* It’s a crazy world we live in, son. LC out.

Nate Parker vs. Nat Turner

012716-centric-entertainment-nate-parker-birth-of-a-nation

Look, I won’t lie to anyone out there. Writing this post hurts my soul for a variety of reasons. I’m struggling to find a way to convey my feelings about the entire situation without being problematic. Maybe that’s not a good way to start an article, but everyone who reads this blog knows I’m brutally honest in regards to my point of view. With that being said, I feel like there are two different conversations at play in this Nate Parker scenario: rape culture and Black equality. While I won’t be one to act like I have all of the answers, I would be remiss if I didn’t speak about this ordeal.

Now, before I get started, let’s just briefly talk about Parker. The 36-year-old actor and director is currently ascending to the apex of his film career. After performances in films such as Beyond the LightsRed Tails and The Great Debaters, Parker has reached the height of his critical acclaim with his newest film, The Birth of a Nation. After writing, directing and starring in the movie, his work gained the attention of Hollywood‘s power players after it received rave reviews and the largest deal in Sundance Film Festivahistory. However; while riding high from his newfound success, a very dark chapter of his history recently resurfaced.

Back in 1999, while attending Penn State University, Parker and his roommate, Jean Celestin, were charged with raping an 18-year-old classmate. Apparently, after a night of drinking, Parker brought the woman back to his apartment, and despite her physical state, engaged in sex with her. To make matters worse, Celestin, who was also in the apartment, decided to join in on the sexual assault. During the subsequent trial, several witnesses testified to the woman being visibly drunk, despite Parker and Celestin suggesting otherwise. In addition, in recorded phone calls that were used at trial, Parker can be heard telling the woman that she “put [herself] in that situation.” However; all of these factors weren’t enough to convict Parker. Based on the fact he and the woman had a consensual sexual encounter the night before, he avoided going down for his crime. Now, while Celestin was originally convicted for his involvement in this situation, he appealed his sentence and skated because the prosecution was unable to once again secure witness testimony.

The saddest part of this whole episode is the fact this woman was harassed by not only Parker and Celestin, but the Penn State campus as a whole. Since both men were star wrestlers at the school, they had plenty of people caping for them and coming to their defense. In classic “victim blaming” fashion, they questioned her character and the validity of her claims, all while championing the men who abused her. Ultimately, this caused her to attempt suicide twice before actually succeeding on her third try in 2012. While Parker recently tried to get ahead of the story and express his “regret” in a lengthy Facebook post, this doesn’t change the course of events or make them even remotely alright.

For me, the reaction from some Black people about this case is truly troubling. If anyone scours through social media, they’ll find various conspiracy theories of the “powers that be” trying to take down a successful Black man. These theories point to the fact the rape case against Parker only surfaced as he was gearing up to put out his aforementioned film about Nat Turner. Side note, for anyone who’s unaware, Turner was a historical figure who led a slave rebellion in 1831, which resulted in the deaths of about sixty five White people. Ultimately, Turner was captured and murdered for his insurgence.

In the eyes of Parker’s supporters, it comes as no surprise that the character of a Black director who decided to speak about a Black hero has come under attack. In the age of #OscarsSoWhite, Black people have frequently expressed the desire to be treated equally in Hollywood. Whether it comes down to securing better acting roles or more opportunities to direct big-budget films, Black people want to be looked at in the same light as their White counterparts. While this is also important to me, it does NOT excuse what Parker did, man. He violated a woman, belittled her plight in the aftermath, and even now, he speaks about how all of this has affected HIM. He’s not the victim here! In actuality, the real victim is dead because she couldn’t cope with how the justice system failed her. I’ve seen Bill Cosby‘s supporters use the same type of “conspiracy” defense, but why won’t we hold our own accountable for the fucked up shit they do? Overall racial inequality doesn’t give us the excuse to take advantage of other people. When it comes to both Parker and Cosby, they victimized people who couldn’t defend themselves. Individuals like that do NOT deserve our sympathy or support, regardless of what ideal we believe they represent.

In the end, I’m completely conflicted about seeing this movie. On one hand, I want Black people to excel in every facet, especially the historically segregated film industry. However; I find it very hard to give money to someone who has committed such an atrocity. Look, I’ve never been a hypocrite, son. I’ve cut off Cosby and R. Kelly for these same reasons. Ultimately, I guess I just wish a better human being were receiving Parker’s accolades. Good day.